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2.8 million Libyans sign up to vote but polls far from sure

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MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP or licensors


Libya's elections commission on Tuesday closed its online voter registration portal ahead of national polls set for December, but beset by growing doubts despite a months-long pause in fighting.

Commission head Imad al-Sayeh told journalists in Tripoli that some 2.83 million people in the North African country had signed up to vote, and invited citizens overseas to register from Wednesday onwards.

Libya, home to some seven million people, has made tentative steps since last summer towards ending a decade of violent fragmentation initially sparked by the overthrow of dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.

A UN-brokered ceasefire signed in October between warring eastern and western camps has largely held.

Parallel political negotiations have installed a transitional government tasked with leading the country towards national elections set for December 24.

But despite months of relative peace, Libyans remain at odds over when the elections should be held, which elections, and on what legal basis.

Libya has been without a constitution since Kadhafi scrapped it in 1969.

The 75 delegates selected by the United Nations to guide the political transition have yet to agree on a constitutional basis for the December polls.

Last week at a virtual meeting they again failed to reach a compromise despite pressure from the UN.

Sayeh said Tuesday that the commission was waiting for a new electoral law to be passed in order for candidates to begin signing up.

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